Wreckage of missing chopper found after three monthsNovember 13th, 2008 - 9:17 pm ICT by IANS
Hyderabad, Nov 13 (IANS) Wreckage of a private helicopter, which went missing soon after it took off from here for Chhattisgarh over three months ago, was found Thursday in the forest area of Andhra Pradesh’s Khammam district near the border with Chhattisgarh, the police said.The police found the wreckage of the chopper and remains of its four crew members in Pamuluru Gutta area under Ventakapuram mandal of Khammam district, about 400 km from here.
The police personnel rushed to the scene after receiving information from villagers. They found the photo identity cards of the four occupants, including its pilot Ajay Pratap Singh.
It is still not clear if the helicopter crashed due to a technical snag or came under attack from Maoists.
The police said they have also taken into custody two people, including a registered medical practitioner, who were reportedly aware of the circumstances in which the helicopter crashed.
The Ran Air Bell 430 along with its four crew members went missing after it took off from here for Raipur Aug 3.
It was to be refuelled at Jagdalpur, headquarter of Chhattisgarh’s Bastar district, an area having significant Maoist activities.
The Chhattisgarh government had booked the helicopter for Home Minister Ram Vichar Netam and it was scheduled to ferry him from Raipur to Jharkhand Aug 4.
The helicopter had flown 35 minutes before losing contact with the air traffic control tower. It was supposed to land at Jagdalpur in Bastar after 90 minutes of flight for refuelling but it did not reach there.
Despite the massive search by the authorities in border areas of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Orissa, the chopper had remained untraced. Two Indian Air Force helicopters were also pressed into service as part of the operations.
A ground search could not be conducted as the Maoists have strong presence in the dense forests.
Abhimanyu Pratap Singh, who had run from pillar to the post for the search of his father pilot Ajay Pratap Singh, said that he has heard about the finding of the remains of the helicopter.
Abhimanyu, who was in Bhopal, said that he was waiting to hear from the authorities about the details of the recovery.